It’s been a few days since Sagittarius A* and I made it to The Great Annihilator along with CMDR Bikky and CMDR Ian Norton. It may not be the biggest black hole in the galaxy but it’s far more spectacular than Sgr A*. Must be something to do with having 2 black holes but the gravitational lensing is really something.
We hung around for an hour or so, daring each other to go closer and closer to the A and B stars and taking photos and then bid our farewells, the last time any of us will see another human for at least a couple of weeks.
I wasn’t really sure what to do after that so I just headed upwards to see how far I could get. Pretty far as it turns out. I made it to 2722ly above the galactic plain before I ran out of stars in jump range. Up here, there’s just blackness above me and the light of the Milky Way’s 400 billion stars below. I must be one of the highest humans alive at the moment and the views are spectacular. I’ll leave you with some photos.
We all attempted to meet up at Sagittarius A* but it proved too difficult with people sleeping at all hours and attending to jobs on their ships so in the end we only managed to get 4 of us together at one time.
There was some drama though. CMDR Stoneage, Charybdis and I had just finished some photos in formation and were moving away from each other when I heard a horrible scraping noise followed by sparks coming out of my dashboard. I’d been hit by Stonage. Or possibly he’d been hit by me. No one will ever know. Excpet Charybdis who has video evidence and keeps threatening to show it to us. No shields and 26000ly from the nearest repair facility I started to fear the worst.
When we’d carefully moved away from each other I got my breath back and started to look at my module health. As I looked down the list, my heart sank. Thrusters 30%…fuel drone controller 15%… power distribution unit 7%… reactor 0%? Hang on. I realised my ship should be floating in several pieces, along with me, a Remlok and 10 minutes of air.
Then I realised I’d been looking at the power usage, not health. All modules over 90%. Hull at 79% was the worst of the damage. I breathed a sigh of relief and vowed to be more careful in future.
Then I leant on the boost button and almost hit Charybdis.
At that point I decided to move well away from any other ships and take to my cabin for the night. I’ve been out in the black for too long to be hanging around with things to crash into. Got some good photos though:
I’m now half way to the Great Annihilator, another giant black hole, then onwards to who knows where? If you’ve got any suggestions, let me know in the comments.
Early in the morning we got word through that CMDR Cluseau had made it to Sag A*. The rest of the advacned part including me were all within 4000ly as well. A bit later CMDR Stoneage sent word that he’d also arrived, shortly followed by CMDR Charybdis.
At that point I was still 3500ly away but closing quickly. I did 1500ly in the afternoon before putting into orbit around an unremarkable M type star for some rest and recuperation before the final assault.
The final straight started well and I did another 1000ly in well under an hour but then things got a little more difficult. With so many stars around the core, the ship’s route planner just couldn’t cope. I tried to plot another 1000ly course but had to give up – it simply wasn’t finding anything.
I then tried shorter and shorter distances until eventually I managed to plot a 285 ly course towards Sag A*. I’d wasted 40 minutes just plotting that course. I can normally do a whole 1000ly in that time. Slowly and surely I made my way about 280ly at a time towards the core until at 238ly away from Sag A* the route plotter gave up completely and I was forced to make single jumps for the rest of the distance.
Then at 00:07 GMT, I locked my final destination and got ready to jump. Up until then it hadn’t really hit me properly just what we’d achieved but at that moment, floating in space less than 30ly from the centre of the galaxy and almost 26000ly from civilisation, the enormity of how far we’d come really hit me. I sat there for a few seconds just looking at my target and then gingerly hit the jump button.
I’m just resting now. Later on I’ll meet up with the other commanders who made the journey and we’ll have a bit of a celebration.
I’ve got bored of the monotony of fast jumping system after system and after my discovery of a Herbig Ae/Be star yesterday I checked the galaxy map a bit more carefully before setting off on the next 1000ly. Sure enough, I spotted another Herbig, then another, both within 50 light years so I checked both of those out, then checked the galaxy map again – another one. In the space of 1000ly I found 5 Herbigs and 2 Neutron stars and felt like a real explorer again rather than a traveller.
The rest of the party are making good progress too. CMDR Cluseau is ahead with 6400ly to go, closely followed by CMDRs Stoneage, Bikky, Ian Norton and me at 7800ly out then Charybdis and Jeffrey Stoob at 9200ly. We may have lost the rest of the party. Bit careless.
A rather boring leg today – almost nothing worth writing home about until the very last system I came to. No interesting planets, no interesting stars, no nebulas, nothing to break up the monotony of the jump, scan, jump, scan, jump, scan, scoop, jump, scan… I’ve done that 704 times since leaving Shinrarta Dezhra. All I ask is a few nice sights every thousand light years.
Then just before our eighteenth way point, I decided to check the galaxy map for unusual stars, non-sequence, proto, carbon…
Then I spotted it, a Herbig Ae/Be star. These are young pre-main sequence stars which are still in their gravitational contraction stage. Quite rare. Then I spotted another, and another! I headed straight to the first one.
When I arrived at the system, I couldn’t believe my luck. It was a binary system and the other star was also a Herbig. I quickly scanned the first one and took video for research purposes. Notice how fast it’s spinning, around 6rpm.
The second was 7000 ls away so I started the long supercruise and started scanning at around 2000ls, then targetted the first planet – a water giant. I’ve never seen one of those either. This is some system!
I stopped for the night by a normal gas giant and took to my cabin happy.
It’s amazing how quickly you start thinking about distances in thousands of light years when you’re out in the black. In civilised space, I get a bit annoyed if I have to travel 100ly. Out here, that’s a very small detour. The other day I went 500ly out of my way to see a nebula. Not a very interesting nebula as it turns out but it didn’t bother me. It was only half a kly.
I’ve well and truly hit my stride now and I’m consistently doing jumps in less than 50 seconds. 1000ly is still taking me about an hour though because I’m doing some scanning along the way, chatting to the other commanders in the party and plotting routes (I’m ahead now, just).
I didn’t see much interesting today except for a rather odd anomaly. Straight ahead of me, I started to notice a much brighter patch. I didn’t think much of it but as I approached, it resolved into a cube of much higher density stars than the surrounding area. Almost as if there was some sort of bug in nature when this part of the galaxy was condensing.
Tonight I’m going to take it much more slowly to let the rest of our party catch up a bit. Hopefully I’ll find some interesting systems to scan. That’s the beauty of exploring, you never know what you’ll find.
A good night on the mission to Sag A*. I travelled another 2500ly, passed another nebula, found a couple of water worlds and an Earth like world. I also passed the important psychology barrier of the half way point. It’s now 12769.21ly to go…
I’d been helping the Alliance expand into new systems for a few weeks doing combat, trade. missions – whatever needed doing. We’d made good progress but I was starting to get restless. Since my first exploration the call of the void has always been there at the back of my mind and on a whim I decided to head out again. But this time somewhere more interesting – Sagitarius A*, the super massive black hole at the centre of the galaxy.
I picked up Eve from Shinrarta Dezhra after kitting her out for exploration. It was then I bumped into CMDR Bikky who by complete coincidence had decided to head to Sag A*. We decided to make the trip together for company. It gets very lonely out exploring. We winged up and set out directly to the centre of the galaxy.
100ly later and we received comms from CMDR Charybdis and CMDR Ian Norton asking what we we’re up to. We told them about our little trip and they decided to come along as well. 4 people now! We took the first 1000ly slowly and met up to take pictures and have a small celebration with chaff and a heat sink.
By the second day, word had spread of our impromptu trip and another 4 commanders began the trip. Now we were 8! I’d got into a rhythm by now and along with a couple of other commanders we put around 2500ly behind us. The front runners were now 3500ly from civilised space, the furthest I’ve ever travelled but only about 15% of the way to Sagitarius A*. The back marker at this point had had to return to equip a different ship. The scale of the task was becoming apparent!
The third day saw me make another 3000ly of fairly uninteresting systems. By this point I was doing nothing other than jumping, scanning and occasionally scooping, checking the system maps for anything interesting whilst my FSD charged. I’d got my jump time down to under a minute per jump on average which means 1kly in around 40 minutes. If I didn’t get distracted by chatting to the other commanders on the trip, or investigating interesting looking (but generally not) planets.
The fourth day was the most interesting so far. CMDR Charybdis had opened a small lead and had headed slightly sideways to investigate a nebula. When he got there he discovered 5 systems with black holes and neutron stars in a fairly small area (100ly across – it’s funny how your perception of distance changes this far out). I promptly changed tack and followed him there, uncovering a water world on the way. I then saw my first black hole. Rather underwhelming, I have to say apart from the gravitational lensing effects. That was shortly followed by more black holes and finally a neutron star. Black holes, it turns out are not particularly dangerous but neutron stars are incredibly hot, dense and small. I had to get very close to scan it and accidentally got too close and dropped out of supercruise. At that point my heat was already at 54%. With the heat of the star, my FSD capacitor charging and the intense gravity, I only made supercruise when my heat had reached 90% and the cockpit was smoking. A timely reminder that a second’s distraction can cost your life out here. I got a safe distance away, dropped into normal space again and settled down for the night.
The fifth day was pretty uneventful again but I made another 3200ly, leaving me 11000ly from civilisation now. The half way mark is in sight. I should make it today.